HL Deb 19 December 1973 vol 348 cc441-3

8.24 p.m.

EARL FERRERS rose to move, That the Horticulture Capital Grant Scheme 1973, be approved. The noble Earl said: My Lords, there are four Schemes put down in my name on the Order Paper, and if your Lordships would find this convenient I would propose to make now such remarks as I wish to make on them all. If noble Lords wish me to explain anything further, I shall be happy to do so.

The Farm and Horticulture Development Regulations, which are the ones which are new in this respect, have been made in compliance with the E.E.C. Farm Modernisation Directive 72/159. The Regulations provide that where the income per man earned by a farm or horticultural business is less than the national average industrial wage, the occupier may be given financial assistance to enable him to increase his income to that level. In order to qualify for assistance the occupier must carry out an approved development plan designed to increase the productivity of the enterprise. The assistance takes the form of grants towards the cost of capital investment necessary for the purposes of the plan and towards the cost of keeping farm accounts. Where the development plan involves the breeding of cattle or sheep which are suitable for meat production, the occupier will also be eligible for what is known as the guidance premium up to a maximum of £4,000 per farm. Government expenditure under this scheme will attract a 25 per cent. contribution from F.E.O.G.A. funds. The object of the Scheme is to increase productivity in our agricultural industry and thereby enable farmers and growers to achieve incomes comparable to those earned in other industries. I am sure it will meet with the approval of your Lordships.

Two of the other schemes—the Farm Capital Grant Scheme and the Horticulture Capital Grant Scheme—are merely a continuation in a slightly different form of the capital grants schemes under which grants have been available for farmers and growers for many years. They have been modified to meet the requirements of the same E.E.C. Directive I referred to earlier. Unles noble Lords think it is necesary to do so, I do not propose to dwell on these modifications and I commend the Schemes to the House as a continuation of our policy of assisting farmers and growers, which is so vital to the wellbeing of the industry.

The fourth Regulation is the Horticultural Improvement (Amendment) Scheme 1973 and this is merely a tidying up Order which sets terminal dates for applications and claims under the Horticultural Improvement Scheme. As some noble Lords will be aware, this Scheme had to be closed in July when the funds allocated to it by Parliament were in fact all used up. This Amendment Scheme simply provides the legislative authority for recognising and dealing with that situation.

My Lords, I beg to move that the Horticulture Capital Grants Scheme 1973 be approved.

Moved, That the Horticulture Capital Grants Scheme 1973 be approved.—(Earl Ferrers.)


My Lords, we note the generosity which seems to be embodied in some of these Schemes, and we only hope that the E.E.C. will be equally generous when the industry is not that of agriculture and refers to our own country.

On Question Motion, agreed to.